Rabbi Yehuda David
Former Shlaich in Dayton


1. Introduction
2. Preceding bracha (blessing) – majority and minority
3. Preceding bracha for grains
4. Concluding bracha for grains
5. Conclusion

1. Introduction

Since the laws pertaining to brachot (blessings) are both numerous and complex, one approach – in cases where one is uncertain as to the proper bracha – is to rely on the rule: “And for everything, if he recited ‘shehakol niheyeh bidvaro’, he fulfilled the requirement.”[1]

In contrast, according to an alternate approach, which is cited by the Achronim[2], the above rule only applies to those who have in fact studied the laws of brachot but have a specific question. However, individuals who are unfamiliar with the halachic principles involved may not rely on this rule.

In this article, we will adhere to the second approach and, B”EH, will examine the Halacha in order to determine the properbrachot for granola bars.

2. Preceding bracha

As always with the laws of brachot, we begin by studying the food item’s composition in order to determine its correct preceding and concluding brachot.

Granola is made of oatmeal, dried fruit, and honey.

The Rosh[3] ruled that when there is a mixture, the brachais based on the majority ingredient. (He referred to a case where rice is combined with other foods. If the rice is the majority, one should recite ‘borei minei mezonot’.) Both the Shulchan Aruch[4] and the Mishnah Berurah[5] concurred.

In our case, oatmeal comprises the majority. Therefore, one should recite a bracha on the oatmeal, irregardless of the other ingredients.

3. Preceding bracha for grains

Granola preparation

Oatmeal (which is, as indicated above, granola’s most significant ingredient) is one of the five types of grain.[6]

The bracha for the five types of grain depends on if the grain is consumed:

  1. Ground (flour) – shehakol[7]
  2. As is (raw) or even cooked whole – borei pri ha’adamah[8]
  3. As a ma’aseh kedeirah (literally, the creation of a pot) – borei minei mezonot[9]
  4. Ground and baked – either borei minei mezonot or hamotzi[10]

We must determine whether granola, which is certainly a grain, is a ma’aseh kedeirah or is it considered to be raw or cooked whole. In other words, which bracha do we recite: borei minei mezonot or borei minei ha’adamah?

In order to answer this question, we must investigate precisely how granola is prepared. As it turns out, granola is not actually cooked. Instead, it undergoes a brief heating process which softens the grain but does not cook it. Immediately afterwards, the granola is crushed and then formed into a bar.

During the next stage, heat is applied which causes the granola to swell and stick together. Authorities differ whether or not this second heating is considered to be cooking. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach insisted that cooking is not involved and thus thebracha is ha’adamah.

However, others feel that this heating is in fact cooking. According to them, the finished product is a ma’aseh kedeirah, because it has been crushed and stuck to itself and thus meets – according to every opinion – the conditions for ma’aseh kedeirah. (See note 9 below.) In other words, the bracha should be borei minei mezonot. Nevertheless, Rav Auerbach’s opinion is the main one, and therefore borei pri ha’adamah is the correct bracha.

4. Concluding bracha for grains

Now that we have established that the preceding bracha for granola is borei pri ha’adamah, we must determine whether the concluding bracha should be borei nefashot (as is the case for a vegetable[11] ) or al hamichya (as is the case for a grain[12] ).

Rabbeinu Tam[13] creatively suggested combining the two possibilities by reciting the bracha me’ain shalosh (i.e. the general name for al hamichya), albeit it with the words “al ha’adamah vi’al pri ha’adamah. However, in the final analysis, he dismissed the idea, because this is a non-conventional formulation.

Tosfot deliberated[14] and concluded that one should only eat during a meal. The problem is thus avoided, because birkat hamazon averts the need for any other bracha.

According to the Shulchan Aruch,[15] the bracha is borei nefashot but Tosfot’s concern should be addressed.

The Mishnah Berura[16] declared that, b’dieved (post factum), if one ate between meals, one should recite borei nefashot.

The Ba’al Aruch HaShulchan[17] had a different solution. According to him, one should eat the grains together with a food that requires borei nefashot. Nonetheless, if they are consumed alone, the bracha remains borei nefashot.

An additional solution: One obligates oneself to recite a concluding bracha by eating a kizayit (literally, an olive’s worth) within the time considered to be kidei achilat pras (literally, the time necessary for eating a piece of bread).[18] As a corollary, we can state that one who takes longer than kidei achilat pras to eat or one who eats less than a kizayit (approximately 27 cm3) is not required to recite a concluding bracha.

5. Conclusion

In order to clarify granola’s correct brachot, we must consider the following halachic principles:

  1. In a mixture, the majority ingredient determines the bracha.

Grain is the majority ingredient in granola bars.

  1. Chazal considered the food’s state when establishing the different brachot: hamotzi, mezonot, ha’adamah, and shehakol.

Since a granola bar is not actually cooked – but rather stuck together and baked – its bracha is borei pri ha’adamah.

  1. According to some opinions, borei nefashot is the concluding bracha for grains.

However, Tosfot deliberated as to the correct concluding bracha. (According to Tosfot, no concluding bracha is appropriate for a raw or whole-cooked grain.) Therefore, Tosfot held that one should only eat grains as part of a meal.

  1. A concluding bracha is only required for a specific amount of food consumed within a specific amount of time.

Hence, in order to avoid the problem posed in (3), one should either eat another food whose brachot are mezonot and borei nefashot or eat less than a kizayit or eat in a period longer than kidei achilat pras.

“Let the humble eat and be satisfied…”

[1] BT Brachot 40a

[2] BT Brachot 35a: “Go to a wise man, and he shall instruct you.” Also, this is how the Mishnah Berurah understood the Rama (202:84) and the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (24).

[3] Brachot 6:8

[4] Orach Chayim 208:7

[5] Orach Chayim 212:1

[6] Two explanatory comments:

a. Chazal established the brachot based on the food’s importance. For example, bread is the most basic and essential food, and therefore Chazal established a special bracha for bread.

b. When a food is consumed in an irregular manner, it “loses” its regular bracha.

[7] Shulchan Aruch – Orach Chayim 208:8

[8] Ibid 4

[9] The Rishonim differed with respect to ma’aseh kedeirah. According to some, a grain that has been hulked and cooked is ama’aseh kedeirah, and therefore, its bracha is borei minei mezonot. A second group of authorities felt that this is not sufficient. According to this latter opinion, in order for something to be a ma’aseh kedeirah, it must also be crushed; simply removing the grains is not enough. Finally, other Rishonim said that the grains must adhere to one another. See ViZot HaBracha 27, p. 269 (1-4) for further details.

[10] Ibid 2

[11] BT Brachot 44a

[12] Ibid 37b

[13] Ibid a, Tosfot: “Hakoses”

[14] See notes 11 and 12.

[15] Shulchan Aruch 208:4

[16] Ibid 18

[17] Aruch HaShulchan 208:9

[18] There are many opinions with respect to kidei achilat pras. Generally, when it comes to brachot, Ashkenazim interpret this to mean 4 minutes, and those who rely on HaGaon Rav Ovadiah Yosef use a measure of 7.5 minutes. Space considerations preclude a more lengthy discussion of this subject.